RDMLA Offers Free Online Research Data Management Course

Simmons University School of Library and Information Science has partnered with seven academic health sciences and research libraries and science publisher Elsevier to establish the Research Data Management Librarian Academy (RDMLA), a free online professional development program. RDMLA launched on October 7.

RDMLA logoAs LJ’s recent Placements & Salaries survey bears out, research data management (RDM) is an increasingly important skill set for academic librarians. Many LIS programs are rising to the challenge, offering classes and even concentrations in data management, data curation, and other forms of research support. But for students not enrolled in such leading edge programs, or librarians, information professionals, or others working in research-intensive roles who already have their degrees, professional development opportunities may be harder to find.

Now Simmons University School of Library and Information Science has partnered with seven academic health sciences and research libraries and science publisher Elsevier to establish the Research Data Management Librarian Academy (RDMLA), a free online professional development program. RDMLA launched on October 7.

The program, available on the Canvas Network—an open online course platform—is made up of eight 30-minute self-paced units that can be taken individually or as a complete program: the foundations of RDM, navigating research data culture, advocating and marketing the value of RDM in libraries, launching data services in libraries, project management and assessment (as relates to RDM services), overview of data analysis and visualization tools, overview of coding tools, and an overview of platform tools (Open Science Framework, Mendeley Data, and others). The program is licensed CC BY-NC-SA, so others can adapt and reuse the content with attribution for non-commercial purposes.

RDMLA is funded by Elsevier and the entire program is free. “Elsevier was delighted to collaborate with this team of expert librarians to develop the RDMLA and to be its financial sponsor in order to provide librarians a convenient opportunity to develop or enhance their research data management skills,” Shipman told LJ.

However, beginning in 2020 users can opt to receive continuing education credit from Simmons at any point during the course by taking the assessment unit and paying a small fee (which has yet to be decided).


The founding partners first recognized the need for convenient and up-to-the-minute RDM training in 2018. Co-leads Elaine Martin, director and chief administrative officer of the Countway Medical Library, Harvard Medical School; Simmons associate professor Rong Tang; and Jean P. Shipman, Elsevier VP of Global Library Relations, compiled an inventory of existing LIS courses teaching RDM, analyzed job skills listed in position descriptions, and conducted a needs assessment via interviews, surveys, and focus groups. The resulting survey presented a picture of the existing instructional gaps, giving the course development team the necessary framework to develop a curriculum and select instructors for each unit.

The instructors, all LIS faculty members and practicing librarians who work with RDM, represent a range of institutions, including Simmons, Harvard University Library, Harvard Medical School, Brown University, Boston University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science, Tufts University, and Northeastern University. They were responsible for developing learning objectives and providing content for their units, reporting back on their progress at monthly meetings to get feedback from the team.

The program “addresses various aspects of RDM services in libraries such as how to effectively advocate for an RDM library service, and how to develop skills with different RDM software and tools,” according a Scholarly Kitchen interview with team members.

“We have a truly remarkable team of RDMLA faculty with kindred spirits and shared purposes of contributing to free and openly accessible learning content in the area of research data management,” Tang stated in Elsevier’s Library Connect newsletter. “We hope that through RDMLA, there will be a global community of practice where data librarians and other data professionals work together to exchange information, share experiences and expertise, help one another to grow, and strive to advance RDM practices around the world.”

Author Image
Lisa Peet


Lisa Peet is Senior News Editor for Library Journal.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

Ruth Owolabi

I will like to receive training on how to use the RDM effectively in my institution Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria

Posted : Nov 01, 2019 03:09

Maria Pia Mantovani

I am a senior translator interested by innovative library resources and management.

Posted : Oct 31, 2019 04:06

amanda olivier

I would love to have the opportunity to do the free course

Posted : Oct 26, 2019 01:54


Bonjour,je suis documentaliste dans un service de santé au travail (médecine du travail) et je gère un centre de documentation et réalise des veilles documentaires et informationnelles.C'est lors d'une de ces veilles que j'ai vu votre proposition très intéressante et je souhaiterais suivre les cours proposés.Le problème est que je ne maîtrise pas la langue anglaise mais je peux être aidée avec un logiciel de traduction.Je vous remercie de me tenir informée au cas où cela ne sera pas possible de suivre vos cours.Bien cordialement.Annie Pillore

Posted : Oct 26, 2019 01:54


Hello, I am a documentalist in an occupational health department (occupational medicine) and I run a documentation center and carry out document and informational monitoring. It was during one of these vigils that I saw your proposal very interesting and I would like to take the courses proposed. The problem is that I don't master the English language but I can be helped with translation software. Thank you for keeping me informed in case it is not possible to take your courses. Very cordially. Annie Pillore

Posted : Oct 30, 2019 09:30

Muhammad Mirza

Looks a wonderful opportunity to learn RDM for LIS professionals particularly from developing world. Thanks to RDMLA.

Posted : Oct 25, 2019 06:02



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing